Oh, family. On Orphan Black, it’s never as simple as sibling rivalries or uncomfortable family dinners. No, here it’s all about bullet wounds, freaky medical experiments, banishment, and literally digging for secrets. Plus, we’ve got a heaping side of romance real talk and a drug-dealing surprise.
Last week, I bade farewell to Castor Mark, but it looks like I declared him dead too soon. “Newer Elements of Our Defense” finds Mark very much alive. After Bonnie comes storming out of the cornfield, shotgun still in hand, Sarah rushes in to learn Mark’s fate. Her genetic brother is down with a nasty gun wound, but not out, and Sarah manages to flee with him before Bonnie’s Prolethean lackeys come to finish him off.
After the revelation that the Castor and Leda originals were brother and sister, Sarah tries to get Mark to see her as a sister. It may very well reflect her reality — while Sarah may not warm to everyone who shares her DNA (namely Rachel), her life has been enriched by accepting the Leda clones as her sisters (and Tony as her brother). But there’s also a strategy here. If the Castor clones can see the Leda clones as sisters, as people who have been similarly wronged and similarly suffer, they could be powerful allies instead of adversaries.
Mark may not be ready to accept Sarah as a sister, but he does need a field medic, and Sarah will do in a pinch. Amidst Sarah’s squeamishness in helping Mark deal with his bullet wound, it’s increasingly easy to see why the Castors view themselves as the superior clones. While Sarah tries to pity Mark, likening his upbringing to Helena’s, the Castors have the fraternity of having been raised together and a skillset that is pretty darn useful in the field.
What they don’t have is a Cosima.
Cosima is actually enjoying a bit of sibling bonding of her own. After growing up with Sarah and acting as Alison’s confidant/fake acting coach, Felix has turned his full attention on Cosima, demanding that she get over Delphine and get on someone else. It’s sweet, and another example of Felix being the most put-together member of Team Leda.
In the meantime, though, Sarah needs Cosima’s brain. Where Mark thought that the box Gracie recovered from Willard Finch was useless because it contained no actual biological samples, Sarah bothers to read the notebooks inside, learning the Henrik was Ethan Duncan’s lab assistant. With Cosima’s help, she also realizes that Henrik tried to have a Castor son of his own, one whose DNA came straight from the original, without the synthetic sequence. It turns out that Bonnie carried the cloned fetus, but it didn’t survive.
That’s how Sarah ends up in a family cemetery with her new brother Mark, doing a bit of grave robbing.
What Sarah didn’t expect was for their scary brother Rudy to show up. Rudy is as sadistic as ever. It’s not enough for him to hunt Sarah through a barn; he also has to mock her, telling her how much Kira’s going to miss her mommy when she’s gone. Yup, Rudy is still the worst.
But Mark appears and appeals to what Rudy clearly feels are the core Castor values: brotherhood, machismo, rank, commitment to the mission, and competence. It’s enough to turn Rudy from threatening to kill Mark along with Sarah to embracing his brother in near-relief. That doesn’t mean Mark and Rudy are going to let Sarah go, though. It sounds like she’s going to get that reunion with Helena, but in the Castor facilities.
Helena, on the other hand, doesn’t need DNA to feel a kinship with another human being. She throws her heart out to anyone who is suffering and oppressed by powerful guardians. While the imaginary scorpion coaches Helena in an escape from her various “boxes,” Helena is distracted by a Castor clone who is kept in the infirmary, restrained and clearly in pain. The scorpion, it seems, represents a thread of clarity, the part of Helena’s brain that guides her through the fog of her emotions (although the scorpion is, itself, easily distracted by food). But she can’t keep Helena from investigating the Castor clone’s suffering.
When Helena removes the covering from the clone’s head to reveal his exposed brain, we as the audience are meant to be horrified. Helena, however, is merely sad. She may not understand the details of the Castor flaw or precisely why this man is being kept as a lab rat, but she knows a sacrificial lamb when she sees one. The Angry Angel becomes and Angel of Death, and Helena frees the Castor clone from his medical prison with a merciful stab and slice to the brain.
If Dr. Coady was hoping to bring Helena around to her cause, she’s failed miserably. Helena can’t stand parents who abuse their children.
Speaking of terrible mothers (and it feels strange recapping this particular episode on Mother’s Day), let’s turn our attention to Bonnie and Gracie. Bonnie has accepted her wayward daughter back into the fold, and Gracie slips off her wedding ring, deciding, for the moment, that Mark is not her family. Bonnie introduces to the physician who took their Prolethean group in after the compound burned down. He gives her a sad look.
Gracie’s return to, uh, grace, is short-lived, however. She apparently miscarries, earning her a dressing-down from her mother. Bonnie tells Gracie that God is punishing her for betraying their family. Really, Bonnie? And what sin caused baby Castor Abel to die? Terrible Bonnie exiles Gracie. Without Mark or the Proletheans, the only familial tie that Gracie has left to exploit is Helena.
That leaves us with Alison. Oh, Alison, what are we going to do with you? Last week, I idly wondered what would happen when Alison and Donnie ran out of Ramon’s stock of pharmaceuticals, but it turns out they have bigger problems. Ramon didn’t merely have a supplier; he had a big bad drug boss, one who actually owned Ramon’s inventory. Naturally, Alison and Donnie are unnerved to find a drug kingpin’s enforcer in their yard, name-checking their children, but Alison is remarkably cool headed about the whole thing. After everything that happened with Dyad, it takes a lot more than a handsy thug to rattle her.
Whatever Alison was expecting from her clandestine drug meeting, it wasn’t a tiny high school reunion. Ramon’s boss, it turns out, was Jason Kellerman, Alison’s high school boyfriend. And he’s rather impressed both by Alison’s backbone and her soap-making cover. He agrees to take her on as a sales rep.
Of course, we expect that any good fortune the Hendrixes experience is only temporary. When the Jason Kellerman hits the fans, will they finally be calling on Alison’s extended family for help?